Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Firestone Winterforce

Thursday, April 25, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Firestone Winterforce Reviewer's Overall Rating: 7

2002 Honda CR-V
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Miles driven on tires: 15,000
Location: Springdale, AR
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 15,000 Miles on Tires
April 12, 2013

Tires are used on 2002 (manual trans) and now 2003 (automatic) Honda CRV AWD, these tires are a very cost effective, albeit somewhat noisy, way to get winter traction in snow and slippy conditions. Moderately aggressive tread pattern, durable, softish compound still wears much better than I expected (4th winter now still in very good shape especially considering they spend almost all od their time on dry or rainy roads, the car is the primary "got to get to work car" hence snows over all season tires in our somewhat unpredictable though not usually severe winters) studdable if you need it for lots of ice traction and pretty dang inexpensive. We had a 17" snow over night not long after I got these meats and the little CR-V was a TANK, I expected wheelspin but got so much traction I "plowed" the local street as a real plow never comes and also used the trucklet with these tires to clear the gutters for the snowmelt to be able to get to the drains. I purposely tried to beach the little CR-V but the tires pulled right through both the powdery snow then the melting slop with ease. These tires rock for the price and are pretty stout and long wearing in my opinion (about 15000k miles so far and look like they have still several winters left). Do be aware of noticeable tire noise/drone though. Just add stereo and forget it...


Tire Rack Consumer Review of the General Grabber AT 2

Thursday, January 24, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

General Grabber AT 2Reviewer's Overall Rating: 7.67

2004 Land Rover Discovery 4.6 SE
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Miles driven on tires: 16,000
Location: San Francisco/Tahoe City, CA
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 16,000 Miles on Tires
January 08, 2013

This is the 2nd set of tires I have had on my truck. At first I had a set of Nexen street tires on the beast. The winter of 2010-11 had me replace those things fast.
The wife and I are powder hounds and therefore need a tire that performs well in ice and snow. This is where this tire really just delivers. I can't tell you how many storms I have driven through in the Sierra Nevada both with these tires and with street tires. These make all the difference. No tire is great on ice unless you have studs and these are studdable but I like to keep a good amount of distance between me and the guy in front of me in icy conditioons and these perform just fine. These tires really shine in deep snow. So far the record is just below my knee which is about 10-12 inches or so. I was nervous for the first 500 feet but after that it was actually a little fun.
I have driven these on the beach and off road quite a bit as well. They aren't great in sand. They aren't great in mud but I haven't gotten stuck yet. Knock on wood. On dirt roads and rocks they are fine but my street tires were fine in those conditions as well. I haven't noticed any difference in gas mileage since I put them on.
I have driven them about 16k miles and the tread has worn a little more than I like but they come with a 60k warranty we'll see how that plays out. I have them rotated every 6k miles when I change my oil.
Overall a very solid tire. I know they will last longer than the Michelins I have on the BMW and I know they are made better. The balance weights on the tires is proof of that.
They perform where I absolutely need them too and that is to get me to the mountains and back so I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

General AltiMAX Arctic: A Cost-Effective and Capable Winter / Snow Tire

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 by Marshall Wisler

Having a lower price point than many winter / snow tires, some customers question the effectiveness of the General AltiMAX Arctic. This tire is perhaps not as soft as certain Studless Ice & Snow tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 or Michelin X-Ice Xi3, and it may give up a small amount of ice traction. However, this Studdable Winter / Snow tire has proven quite effective for multiple seasons and continues to get strong reviews by consumers.

As a studdable tire, the AltiMAX Arctic can be sold with studs to further increase traction in the most severe winter conditions. While studded tires are certainly not for everyone and have some negative features, such as reduced dry road handling and increased road noise, the ability to add studs is optional and available for those who desire. It's also important to check with local law enforcement officials to see if studded tires are allowed in your area. To learn more about how studded tires may or may not be right for you this winter, read "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

As mentioned earlier, customers have been giving the General AltiMAX Arctic great reviews. Take a look at what some of them are saying about their experience with this tire:

"This tire is the best I've ever used in 45 years of driving in Vermont winters!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2013 Volkswagen Jetta S

"Awesome snow tire. Not only was it one of the cheaper tires in my size, but one of the best reviewed - and I can see why. My rear-wheel drive BMW got around our 6", one-day snow accumulation as good as any of the 4WD trucks I've had in the past. It is a beast of a tire in the snow, and still very quiet on the highway. If this tire can get a BMW through a North Dakota winter, I'd be confident using it anywhere!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2004 BMW 330CI Performance Package

"Fantastic winter tire at a great value price. Ride and noise are good to very good. Ride and cornering are amazing being better than the factory standard tire on this vehicle. Snow traction is good in all conditions and really snow plows through deeper conditions. Ice performance is very good. I have purchased this tire for two vehicles to date and recommend it to my friends as an affordable option for a great winter tire." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2012 Nissan Altima Sedan

To see if the General AltiMAX Arctic tire is right for your application this winter, shop by vehicle.

Studdable Winter / Snow Tires: With or Without Studs?

Monday, November 26, 2012 by Hunter Leffel

I am occasionally asked if drivers can run studdable winter tires, such as the Firestone Winterforce and the General AltiMAX Arctic, without the studs. The answer is yes, however if you're planning on using the studs check with your local authorities as there are restrictions and even bans in many states.

We did some testing a few years back that helps highlight the performance differences between these two tires. To gauge what sort of differences adding studs makes, we studded a set to test side-by-side with its unstudded counterparts. Complete test results can be found by reading "Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter / Snow."

Our test compared the studded General AltiMAX Arctic against the tire being unstudded and showed us how each would perform in real world driving situations. Acceleration in snow without traction control saw a .1% difference favoring the unstudded, however when utilizing the traction control system, there was a 3% advantage to the studded version. The braking exercise employed ABS on a snow-covered surface. The studded tire took .4% longer to stop the BMW. 

In the snow, the differences are pretty minor. This is not much of a surprise as the purpose of the stud is really for ice traction. 

General Altimax Arctic
General AltiMAX Arctic
Firestone Winterforce
Firestone Winterforce

The story shifts when we move to icy surfaces. Our studded solution was 23% and 34% better in acceleration and braking respectively.

Another area worthy of examining is wet and dry road braking. The studs play a detrimental role in these environments giving the unstudded option right around a 5% advantage. They also generate a significant amount of noise when they hit the road surface. Additionally, they can cause significant levels of damage to the road surfaces that put a strain on highway budgets. 

While this is a brief overview of the performance differences between studded and unstudded winter solutions, you can learn more about this topic by reading "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

Best Affordable Winter / Snow Tires

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 by Gary Stanley

The latest and greatest technology in winter / snow tires is found in options such as the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. However, they can be priced higher than other winter tires with different technology. Even the most inexpensive winter tires will offer a noticeable improvement in snow and ice traction compared to all-season tires.  






During our testing at a local ice rink, we wanted to see how much of a difference winter tires make in winter conditions. As illustrated in the photo above, you can see winter / snow tires allow you to stop sooner when braking on ice. It could be the difference between rear ending another car at an intersection or stopping safely with room to spare. You'll also feel much more confident and in control of your vehicle when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads. To see the difference winter tires made at the ice rink compared to summer and all-season tires, read "Testing on Ice: Winter / Snow vs. All-Season vs. Summer Tires."

When looking for a value-priced winter / snow tire, consider the following three options:

Continental Extreme Winter Contact
Dunlop Graspic DS3
Dunlop Graspic
General Altimax Arctic
General AltiMAX

The Dunlop Graspic DS-3 is a Studless Ice & Snow tire that delivers maximum winter traction without using metal studs. It uses Dunlop's Digital Rolling Simulation II technology (computer-enhanced design) and premium tread compounding to deliver wintertime traction in snow and on ice.

Continental's ExtremeWinterContact tire is developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossovers, as well as, passenger-oriented light-duty trucks and SUVs looking for traction on winter's slushy, snow-covered and icy roads. This tire delivers serious performance in winter weather conditions.

AltiMAX Arctic tires from General are a Studdable Winter / Snow option that receives high marks from our customers in the light snow traction, deep snow traction and ice traction categories. Molded to accommodate the use of optional metal studs, AltiMAX Arctic tires meet the industry's severe snow service requirements and are branded with the mountain/snowflake symbol.

Don't wait too long to order. Many value-priced winter / snow tires sell out quickly. 

Studdable Winter / Snow Tires: General AltiMAX Arctic and Firestone Winterforce

Friday, November 2, 2012 by Ben Rooney

While most of the new developments in winter / snow tire technology are in the Studless Ice & Snow performance category, studdable snow tires remain a solid option for winter driving. Studdable winter tires tend to have a little longer treadlife than their studless counterparts, and are often some of the best-priced options in a given size. The combination of long wear and low cost make them an excellent choice for drivers needing a value-oriented winter solution.

The two most common tires in this category are the General AltiMAX Arctic and Firestone Winterforce. These tires come in a variety of sizes and are even offered in some LT versions that are rated for 3/4- and 1-ton vehicles. Both are very capable in the snow, and have received excellent reviews from our customers.

General AltiMAX Arctic
General AltiMAX Arctic
Firestone Winterforce
Firestone Winterforce

Take a look at what customers are saying about their experience with the General AltiMAX Arctic:

"I used the General AltiMAX Arctic tires on my 2008 Honda Fit Sport for three winters in upstate New York, two of which had significant snowfall. These tires exceeded my expectations and provided excellent traction and control. With these snow tires, I was able to drive in heavy snow and on some very icy roads with no difficulty. I highly recommend these tires for the Honda Fit." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2008 Honda Fit Sport

"Excellent winter tire for the money. Transformed my rear-wheel drive Volvo into a snow machine. I have much more confidence driving in the winter than with my all-season tires. We see a wide variation of winter weather in Kentucky so it's nice to feel prepared for anything." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1991 Volvo 940 SE

Also, check out what drivers are saying about the capabilities of the Firestone Winterforce in winter conditions:

"Unbelievable difference from all-season tires. I live in a Pittsburgh neighborhood where we need to climb a substantial hill to get home. If it snows any considerable amount, my neighbors are parking their cars and walking. I climb right up the hills and have no problem getting home. Very impressed! Nice job, Firestone!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2009 Honda Accord Sedan EX 4cyl

"These Winterforce tires have worked superbly on our 2002 Volvo S40. We live in Maine so there is plenty of snow and ice and they work great in all of it. Excellent tire at a very good price." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2002 Volvo S40

Studdable tires are sold without studs by default. Customers who want additional ice traction can opt to add studding for $15 per tire. Some areas do not allow the use of studs, or restrict their use to certain times of year, so make sure to check your local regulations before ordering tires with studs installed. For more information on studded tires, read "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

Which Winter Performance Category is Right for You?

Monday, October 8, 2012 by Cy Chowattukunnel

In order to purchase the correct winter / snow tire, you should decide which performance category works best for your driving style and the winter weather you experience. The three major categories are: Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow and Performance Winter / Snow.

Studless Ice & Snow tires give you optimum ice and packed snow grip, but are less responsive on dry roads. The tires trade a little handling for excellent ice and snow traction. On the dry roads, your vehicle will not respond as crisply or quickly to steering inputs.

Studdable Winter / Snow tires can be run studded or unstudded. When studded, they'll give comparable ice and packed snow grip but will be less responsive on dry roads. When unstudded, they'll perform well in moderate and deep snow. It's important to note that the use of studded tires may be prohibited or restricted in your area, be sure to check with local authorities to confirm legality.

Performance Winter / Snow tires will exhibit the above dry-road deficiencies to a much lesser degree. If your vehicle came with summer performance tires, the Performance Winter / Snow tires will be more comparable in steering response, acceleration, grip, braking and cornering grip. They'll give up some ice and packed snow grip. Tires in this category will wear slightly better compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires, especially during the early and late winter days when temperatures are a little warmer. All snow tires will have more tread noise and this will vary from tire to tire. Performance Winter / Snow tires do tend to be quieter than the other performance categories.

Studless Ice & Snow tires tend to be available in higher profile sizes and include the following:

If you go with a Studless Ice and Snow tire, you should consider going with a narrower tire as it cuts through deeper snow better. This is especially true for a lighter car like the MINI Cooper.

Looking for the traditional security of winter tire studs for enhanced traction on ice? Consider the following Studdable Winter / Snow options:

The AltiMAX Arctic is slightly better on ice and packed snow and quieter than the the Winterforce. Winterforce tires will provide more effectiveness in deeper snow.

Available in lower profile sizes, the following Performance Winter / Snow tires are worth a look:

Is a Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow or a Performance Winter / Snow tire right for your vehicle? It depends on your car, where you live, how you drive on dry roads and how you want to balance the above compromises.

For example, my brother lives in Marion, Indiana, which is about an hour northeast of Indianapolis. He got the Blizzak WS60 Studless Ice & Snow in 235/40R18 on Sport Edition A7 wheels for his 2008 BMW M3. He chose this tire because central Indiana is more apt to get ice storms and there's the potential for heavier snow that wouldn't be quickly cleared from the country roads between his offices. He's willing to drive slower on dry roads.

Compare my brother's driving situation with another driver from Louisville with the same car but a heavier foot, he would be better served with the Performance Winter / Snow Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires in 235/40R18 front and 255/40R18 rear. Louisville's milder weather allows him to emphasize dry road performance, but still have emergency snow capability.

Let it snow.

Studdable Winter / Snow Tires are Available at Tire Rack

Friday, September 21, 2012 by Zig Ziegler

Slick snow- and ice-covered roads are inevitable in the winter, but you can be prepared to handle anything with a Studdable Winter / Snow tire. These tires can be used with or without studs. Without studs, a Studdable Winter / Snow tire will handle light and deep snow with ease due to a vast amount of siping and a dedicated cold weather rubber compound. 

The increased siping creates hundreds of biting edges for improved snow traction. Designed to stay soft and pliable even in subzero temperatures, the tires' rubber compound allows them to more easily conform to the road in winter driving situations.

When studs are installed to a Studdable Winter / Snow tire, tungsten carbide pins are added to prescribed locations molded into the tire's tread design. Studs give the tire unsurpassed traction in icy conditions by using the vehicle's weight and the centrifugal force of the tire to effectively chip and tear away at the ice. Tire Rack can add studs to any of our Studdable Winter / Snow tires for only $15 per tire.

Several options in this performance category are available, including: General AltiMAX Arctic, Pirelli Winter Carving, Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter, and Firestone Winterforce

General Altimax Arctic
General AltiMAX Arctic
Pirelli Winter Carving
Pirelli Winter Carving
Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
Firestone Winterforce
Firestone Winterforce

All of these winter / snow tires meet the severe snow service requirement and are branded with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol. Due to their unique designs, these tires must be used in sets of four. Use of studded tires is often prohibited or restricted. Check with local authorities to confirm legality.

Shop by vehicle to view the Studdable Winter / Snow tire options available for your vehicle.

What Performance Category of Winter / Snow Tire Do I Need?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 by Hunter Leffel

As you begin to shop for winter / snow tires this year, you may discover there are different types available. Which leads to the obvious question: "Which one will work best for me?"

General Altimax Arctic shown without studs
General AltiMAX Arctic - Studdable Winter/Snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - studless ice and snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - Studless Ice & Snow
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 - performance winter
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 - Performance Winter/Snow

Studdable Winter / Snow

Tires in this category offer your traditional winter compound and tread design. They meet severe snow service requirements and are marked with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol. The tread is designed to accept metal studs as a traction aid on packed snow and ice. One disadvantage includes an increase in noise from the studs hitting the road surface. You also have to be aware of local restrictions on their use. A studding service is available at Tire Rack for $15 per tire.

Studless Ice and Snow

Through the use of advanced rubber technologies, Studless Ice and Snow tires deliver studded tire performance without the studs. This is the most popular option as you don't have to worry about local restrictions and the noise associated with the studded solution. In fact, in our tests, results show that studless tires proved they have what it takes in the areas of acceleration, control, traction and cornering, surpassing that of studded tires. To see why Studless Ice and Snow tires perform so well, watch "Ice Traction Testing: Studded vs. Studless."

Performance Winter / Snow

For those that need a winter / snow tire more for the cold temperatures than for actual ice and snow, this is a great category to consider. Performance Winter / Snow options will be more responsive and offer more wet and dry road traction than the other categories. The tradeoff is they're not quite as effective in snow and on ice. These low profile tires are designed to suit winter driving on European highways and are branded with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol.

Take a look at all the winter / snow tires we carry and find one that's right for you.

Studded Winter / Snow Tires: General AltiMAX Arctic

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by Gary Stanley
With winter upon us, now is a great time to buy a set of winter / snow tires! 

Most drivers tend to use Studless Ice and Snow or Performance Winter / Snow tires. However, we carry a selection of Studdable Winter / Snow tires for those who are after a traditional studded snow tire set-up. 

While their name would suggest tires in this performance category can only be used with studs, they can actually be used without. In fact, the General AltiMAX Arctic is a great entry-level Studdable Winter / Snow tire that has very good snow and ice traction without studs. The chart below shows how closely the unstudded General AltiMAX Arctic compared to the studded version in our test, "Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter / Snow." 

Winter Testing
Designed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans, passenger-oriented light duty pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles who are looking to enhance wintertime traction, the AltiMAX Arctic offers high levels of traction at low temperatures. Featuring General's All-Weather Dual Tread compound, the tire is developed to enhance cold weather flexibility and wet traction. General AltiMAX Arctic tires meet the industry's severe snow requirements and are branded with the mountain/snowflake symbol.

It's important to note that there are special break-in procedures for studded tires and to find the instructions, read "Studded Tire Break-In."

Speed Rating: More Than Just Speed?

Thursday, January 12, 2012 by Gary Stanley
Here is a question I recently received in one of the BMW forums I moderate: "Speed rating is just about speed, right? I bought Continental ExtremeWinterContact 225/45-17 tires and I can't believe how they messed up my handling. My previous set of Vredestein winter tires were much better for the general handling. These tires are incredibly flexible, way too soft. They make the car wander about all the time. I played with different pressure; no difference."

Technically, speed rating is only a measure of the tire's top speed capability. However, there is almost always a correlation between handling and speed rating since higher performance tires tend to be capable of maintaining higher top speeds for a longer period of time. While this is not always true, in the majority of cases lower speed rated tires tend to have slower steering responses and reduced dry grip, especially in winter / snow tires.

Shown below is what each speed rating letter equates to in miles per hour: 

  L 75 mph 120 km/h Off-Road & Light Truck Tires
  M 81 mph 130 km/h  
  N 87 mph 140km/h Temporary Spare Tires
  P 93 mph 150 km/h  
  Q 99 mph 160 km/h Studless & Studdable Winter Tires
  R 106 mph 170 km/h H.D. Light Truck Tires
  S 112 mph 180 km/h Family Sedans & Vans
  T 118 mph 190 km/h Family Sedans & Vans
  U 124 mph 200 km/h  
  H 130 mph 210 km/h Sport Sedans & Coupes
  V 149 mph 240 km/h Sport Sedans, Coupes & Sports Cars
  W 168 mph 270 km/h Exotic Sports Cars
  Y 186 mph 300 km/h Exotic Sports Cars

To learn more about speed ratings, read "Understanding Speed Ratings."

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Firestone Winterforce UV

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Firestone Winterforce UVReviewer's Overall Rating: 8.27

2010 Honda Odyssey
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Miles driven on tires: 9000
Location: Peabody, MA
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 9000 Miles on Tires
January 05, 2012

This is my second set of Winterforce tires since 2004, which at that time weren't even branded as Firestone. I prefer studdable snows over the studless as I feel the studless are a waste of $. I have used many types of Winter tires dating back to the '90s, with some being a repeat purchase.

In any event, these are decent tires that I would place second (though a distant second) in the studdable category. The wet, & especially ice traction leaves a bit to be desired. My only consolation is that I got an amazing deal on them, & I knew at the time that they would probably be a little disappointing based on my awesome experience with the General Altimax Artics. These are significantly better, even if it costs you an extra $100/set. The ice traction is that disappointing & now I know where Consumer Reports is coming from on their poor ranking as well. If $ is tight (like it was for me), they're 1000x better than All Seasons but not the best available.

On the plus side, I try to break them loose in snow & it doesn't happen. Treadwear is great as well (for Winter tires). At 6K when I put them back on in Dec. 2011 I was looking at 12/32" Front, 14/32" Rear on my heavy FWD Odyssey. My rough calculations is 36K-42K of life at this rate if they don't wear-out on the edges, which Odysseys are notorious for (not the tire's fault). This is phenomenal, & exceed the Generals on a much lighter car ('09 Civic) that would be done around 30K due to starting with only 12/32" tread. The Winterforce's extra 2/32" of tread is definitely a selling point for those on a strict budget & if you encounter little ice in your Winter conditions these would be a better choice due to longevity for your dollar. I encounter a ton of ice in the Winter, so no more Winterforces for me though for the right person/conditions they are are great choice & tire.

Fit for a Fit: General AltiMAX Arctic

Thursday, January 5, 2012 by Gavin Carpenter

General AltiMAX ArcticThis past New Year's weekend, my wife and I took a trip to spend time with some friends about 45 miles from our home. We expected food, fun and festivities, however what we got was an unexpected 4" of snow and freezing mist on the plowed roads.

Thankfully, we put a set of General AltiMAX Arctic winter / snow tires on her Honda Fit a couple of months ago when she took a road trip to New York. This was my first winter driving experience in the Fit and I'm glad we made the decision to go with the General AltiMAX Arctic.

The following reasons are why we decided to install the General AltiMAX Arctic tires on the Honda Fit:

These General winter tires came in handy when we encountered one of those "surprise" winter driving situations. My wife's car zipped through the snow while others were slipping around.

Since the General AltiMAX Arctic is a studdable winter tire, we can stud your set for a cost of $15.00 per tire. If you choose to stud the tire, please be mindful of the studding laws in your state and that there is a brief break-in period.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3DReviewer's Overall Rating: 8.7

2007 Volvo S40 2.4I
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Miles driven on tires: 4500
Location: Houtzdale, PA
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 4500 Miles on Tires
March 25, 2009

First let me say that no snow tire will turn your FWD into a 4WD, but they will make it seem unstopable compared to regular all season tires. These tires are just amazing. A great compromise in Snow and Ice traction and Dry/wet pavement handling. Slush didn't faze them either. The noise level is on par with the touring tires I took off and the ride is excellent. The tires grip extremely well on hard pack snow and Ice. They are not as good as some aggressive studdable type snow tires in the real heavy stuff, but they handle dry or wet roads as well as a regular sport tire would. Noise is not an issue with these tires either. Overall I would buy these tires again in a heartbeat. They let my Volvo maintain it's fun to drive handling and give great real world snow and ice capabilities. If these tires won't get you there safely, you probably shouldn't be on the road.

General AltiMAX Arctic vs. Firestone Winterforce

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by Cy Chowattukunnel
Are you still researching winter / snow tires? Well, Thanksgiving has just passed us by and it's time to pare down your list and decide what tires are right for your vehicle. And to help you with your decision, take a look at two options available in the Studdable Winter/Snow category: the Firestone Winterforce and General AltiMAX Arctic.

Firestone Winterforce
Firestone Winterforce
General AltiMAX Arctic
General AltiMAX Arctic

While a set of these Firestone auto tires and General winter tires can be studded ($15 per tire), most drivers are better off running them unstudded. Our testing found that driving without studs gives most drivers a better balance of snow traction, dry and wet road performance and ice grip.

Both tires are good choices but the General AltiMAX Arctic outperforms the Winterforce in many areas. The Firestone and General tires are comparable in moderate and deep snow, however the AltiMAX Arctic performs better in dry road handling, packed snow, ice and wet grip. Although all winter tires have tread noise, the AltiMAX Arctic has the added bonus of being significantly quieter. Customers agree with our test results as well, as this winter / snow tire is currently the top-rated tire in our Tire Survey Results.

General is owned by German tire manufacturer Continental, who supplies Original Equipment tires to many automobile manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen. So it's really no surprise that the AltiMAX Arctic is engineered so well to be a set of General truck tires for light duty applications, as well as a set of winter / snow tires for your SUV, coupe, sedan, minivan or crossover.

And whether you decide to purchase a new set of General AltiMAX Arctic tires or are looking for a set of Firestone tires for sale, use our Upgrade Garage to help you make an informed decision.

How Does Speed Rating Affect My Tire Choice?

Thursday, November 3, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
How does speed rating affect my tire choice?

What does the number and letter mean after the tire size?

Q 99 mph 160 km/h Studless and studdable winter / snow tires
R 106 mph 170 km/h H.D. light truck tires
S 112 mph 180 km/h Family sedans and vans
T 118 mph 190 km/h Family sedans and vans
H 130 mph 210 km/h Sport sedans and coupes
V 149 mph 240 km/h Sport sedans and coupes
W 168 mph 270 km/h Sport sedans, coupes and sports cars
Y 186 mph 300 km/h Exotic sports cars
Y 186+ mph 300+ km/h Exotic sports cars

You can see that each step up the scale results in an increase in top speed. Albeit some letters are missing (e.g. U) and not necessarily in alphabetical order, the chart does outline what ratings are appropriate for vehicles. It's important to note that some of the vehicle manufacturers sometimes specify a tire has a higher speed rating than necessary. For example, many Honda Accord vehicles have V-rating tires from the factory, which gives a 149 mph top speed on the tire. Tire Rack is very comfortable with this vehicle wearing an H-rating. We feel that being able to drive up to 130 mph is more than enough speed rating for everyday use. Does that mean that some shops will have a hard time installing an H-rated tire? Yes, some installers have taken all the guess work out of the situation and only install what the O.E. manufacturer puts on the car.

How does a family sedan that has no chance of ever reaching 149 mph in factory form have this rating specified? Higher speed ratings will handle more heat and circumferential force, which causes them to be more ridged and firm. This helps for performance handling and responsiveness to steering inputs, but can firm up road manners and result in a little more tire noise from impacts. Your lower speed ratings typically are "looser" types of passenger all-seasons and standard touring all-seasons and are not as concerned with sport performance. Winter / snow tires are the exception to the rule as most shops will install a winter tire of significantly lower speed rating. This is due to the understanding by most that the winter tires are going to make your car handle a little differently (usually a bit more play in the steering) to give you exceptional winter traction. Finally, as you are trying to determine what is best for your needs start by searching by vehicle. We do our best to offer what will keep your car handling most like the manufacturer intended. And, if you're still having trouble understanding how the tire speed ratings work, get a hold of one of our sales specialists.

Looking for a Studdable Winter Tire? Try the General AltiMAX Arctic.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
General Altimax ArcticThe General AltiMAX Arctic has proven to be a great value for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossovers during the winter months. It's also the truck tire chosen for winter driving by many light duty pickup truck owners.

A set of these General winter tires have the option of being equipped with studs to boost your vehicle's ice and hard packed snow traction. Utilizing a multi angle sipe system results in 270 degrees of interlocking sipes that offer the benefit of thousands of biting edges that maximize traction in any direction. The directional tread pattern performs water and slush evacuation. There is a solid center rib as well to instill confidence during straight line traveling in inclement weather. The tire also reacts to different road conditions to keep the most rubber on the ground for the best traction, which General calls Reactive Contour Technology (RCT). 

The winter tire reviews for the AltiMAX Arctic show the tire to have high rankings in light snow traction, deep snow traction and ice traction. And, having used a set of these General snow tires on one of my vehicles, I can say they provide safety and mobility in extreme winter weather. General offers sizes covering 75% of the market, which means there is a great chance they are available for your vehicle.

Shop by vehicle to find the winter / snow tire that works best for your winter driving needs.

Does Your Cruze Need Michelin Snow Tires, Bridgestone Snow Tires or Firestone Snow Tires?

Thursday, October 13, 2011 by Steve Huffman
Chevrolet's all-new Cruze has proven to be a popular choice among U.S. drivers. Many discerning drivers no doubt opted for this model due to its outstanding fuel economy. Part of that fuel economy was achieved by the O.E. all-season tires with which they were equipped. Unfortunately, these tires don't always perform so well in the winter. However, there are some excellent winter tire options available that wil get the Cruze safely through Mother Nature's coldest months.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Michelin X-Ice Xi2
Michelin X-Ice Xi2
Firestone Winterforce
Firestone Winterforce

The Blizzaks are one of our best sellers, and the WS70 is the winter / snow tire choice for my personal car. They offer superior traction in snow and on ice. They are, however, a little soft on dry pavement. For this reason, we would also suggest the Michelin X-Ice Xi2. They have excellent winter traction as well, but behave more like your all-season tires on dry pavement. The Firestone Winterforce is a great entry-level winter / snow tire that is also studdable. And when you're looking at Firestone tire prices, the Winterforce is an excellent choice for the budget-minded consumer.

You may also want to consider snow wheels to go along with your new Chevy tires to create a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package. Packages come pre-assembled and ready to bolt on. This saves you time and money and gives you the freedom to easily change between summer and winter packages.

Best Winter / Snow Tires Available at Tire Rack

Thursday, October 6, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
The snowy weather will be here before you know it. Since winter / snow tires are a seasonal item, September or October is the best time to make that all important winter / snow tire purchase. It's the months where in-stock inventory is the largest and you most likely won't have to settle for your second or third option.

Let's take a look at the best-rated winter / snow tires according to our Tire Survey Results:

The top-rated option in the Studdable Winter/Snow category is the General AltiMAX Arctic. This has been a perennial favorite among customers, as the tire provides a great deep snow traction solution without installing studs. You can also add studs to enhance the tire's ice traction, albeit with a noise and wet traction penalty.

Looking at Studless Ice and Snow solutions, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 is currently ranked number one overall in the category. To learn more about the reputation of Bridgestone's Blizzak tires, read "Bridgestone Blizzak FAQs." Through the use of special rubber compounds containing, among things, fiberglass, you get studded tire traction without the studs. We like to say it makes driving in the snow feel like driving in the rain.

For those customers looking for more clear road performance, check out our Performance Winter/Snow tires. If you have a performance vehicle equipped with summer tires or you live in an area where it's cold, but the roads are mostly clear, this is a great solution. The tires employ a winter rubber compound that stay soft and pliable in colder temperatures. They also have tread patterns optimized for snow traction. They're designed to trade the enhanced compounds found in studless variations to optimize winter capability for more responsive and sporty characteristics. In Performance Winter / Snow tires, the-top rated option for "Winter Performance" is again a Bridgestone product. In this case, it is the Blizzak LM-60.

General AltiMAX Arctic
General AltiMAX Arctic
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60

Shop by vehicle to find the tire that works best for your vehicle.

Make Your 2010+ Outback Even Better in the Snow

Friday, September 16, 2011 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Many Subaru Outback drivers chose their vehicle because of its symmetrical all-wheel drive that provides great accelerating and cornering grip in the rain and snow. With all of its advantages, the Outback is still limited by the amount of grip available with each tire. The right snow tire will let you take your vehicle even further.

To gain a better understanding of which snow tire will work best for your vehicle, read "Which Snow Tire: Studless Ice and Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow or Performance Winter / Snow?" Given the vehicle's moderate weight, all-wheel drive dynamics and go-anywhere intentions, I would recommend a Studless Ice and Snow tire.

Snow Tire Sizes

The ideal winter tire size for 2010+ Outbacks with a 2.5L engine is 215/70-16. This size is narrow enough to cut through moderate and deep snow and wide enough to handle hard-packed snow, ice and dry roads. Outbacks with a 3.6L engine should run 225/60-17 as 16" wheels won't clear the larger brakes of the 3.6L Outback.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Each wheel has a valve stem-mounted TPMS sensor that you can run with or without for winter driving. If you decide to run without the TPMS sensors, you'll see a warning light, but there are no functional issues associated with the light. And if you're in need of O.E. TPMS sensors, we have them available for $36* each. Your Subaru dealer will have to initialize your winter sensors in the fall and your summer sensors in the spring. For a better understanding on using TPMS sensors, read "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems Servicing."

Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for 3.6L Outbacks

For 3.6L engine Outbacks, one of the best package options is the 225/60R17 Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 on 17x7.5" Sport Edition A7 wheels at $936** plus shipping. The Blizzak WS70 uses Bridgestone's NanoPro-Tech silica-enhanced Tube Multicell compound for superior ice and packed-snow grip.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Sport Edition A7
Sport Edition A

*Prices subject to change
**Excluding TPMS sensors